YouTube to start charging for watching videos

Word on the street is that YouTube is about to launch a monthly subscription service for users who want to view their videos. The charges could range from around £1.28 ($1.99 a month) per channel, and it is estimated that between 25 and 50 channels are expected to be made subscription-only, when the service launches.

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YouTube, which is owned by Google, has more than 1 billion unique users who view over 4 billion hours of video every month. An estimated 70% of all YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S and the site is localised in around 53 countries, and across 61 languages. In 2011 alone, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views, which equates to around 140 views for each person on Earth.

The video site, owned by Google, say that millions of free subscriptions happen each day, but a report in the Financial Times hint that this is all set to change, with the launch of a paid-for subscription service later this week that will charge users to access content on some of its specialist channels.

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It is thought that one of the reasons for launching a paid-for subscription service is so that producers of specialist material will be able to make new and exclusive content available online. Customers who are prepared to pay for specialist channels will get access to the exclusive and new material, and be able to keep abreast with the topics they are particularly interested in.

They will also be the first to view exclusive videos, TV shows and films from select specialist channels, and be able to do so without any annoying adverts.

YouTube have been in the process of revamping the site since 2011,when they introduced new channels back in December. In October 2012, they launched 60 partner channels, including Channel 4 and Film 4, Howcast and The Onion, BBC Worldwide On Earth, ITN, the Jamie Oliver Food Channel and Mixmag TV.

YouTube currently use advertising as a way of generating funds, but by charging people to view new content, they could raise extra revenue this way, and they could also receive payment from showing archived content. It is thought the money raised from the paid subscriptions could be used to fund new TV and film shows that will be shown exclusively online.

A ‘person familiar with the plans’ told the FT that the channels will show archived content or exclusive previews and clips.

Although YouTube hasn’t confirmed or denied the paid-for subscription plans, a Google spokesman said: ‘We’re looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our creators with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer.’

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The rumours about paid-for subscriptions all started back in January when it was reported in AdAge that YouTube had been in touch with a ‘small group of channel producers’. Reports claimed that the group had been asked by YouTube to submit applications to create channels that users would have to pay to access.

A month later, the canny Android fan blog Android Police alerted readers that the YouTube app had been updated to include ‘channel subscribe’ code. It looked like the code was describing how users could subscribe to or unsubscribe from paid channels from their desktop or laptop computers.

As well as launching the paid for subscription service for viewing certain channels, it is thought that YouTube could also be considering charging for content libraries and access to live events on a pay-per-view basics, however, it is possible that the whole service may be piloted out as an experiment, to see if people will actually pay.

A Google spokesman said: ‘We have long maintained that different content requires different types of payment models.

‘There are a lot of our content creators that think they would benefit from subscriptions, so we’re looking at that.’

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